I judge everyone all the time and you do, too. And that is good.


I may not be God, but I’m gonna judge your ass. And that is OK.

Last week my brilliant blogger friend Bad Playdate and I did this fun project: We had a playdate, and then on our respective blogs shared the judgements we passed on various mommy war topics: SAHMs, eating habits, exposing kids to current events, swearing. I had fun with the project, but was  surprised by how much hype it got, including an interview on the clever podcast Dadsater (listen below). People were so surprised that we each voiced our criticisms of each other AND are still friends. Which surprised me. Others decried the posts as a media stunt, which surprised me even more. Because we have blogs. Which is media. So of course it was a media stunt, you morons.

All this made me think critically about the prevalent message of our time: Don’t judge other moms. Don’t judge other women. Don’t judge others. I say: Give me a break. I judge others all the time, and you do, too. In fact, I urge you to own your urge to judge.  Just accept it as normal and healthy! Judgement keeps us all in line with societal standards — and helps us challenge standards that need to change. Asking others and yourself not to judge is like asking you not to fall in love or feel sad — keep it in long enough and you might do something crazy. Like share your judgement passive aggressively. Which happens all the time. Especially among moms.

I say: Embrace your judgements. Assume everyone else judges everyone else (because they do). Then share. Share your observations and opinions with their object. Listen as they explain their behavior — or confess to oblivion. Ask others to share their judgements of you. Listen with an open heart and mind. It might hurt, but that is part of the process. This exercise will liberate your shame for thinking poorly of other people who you may care about. Sharing also brings you closer to the other person — because you are revealing the truth. Truth opens up space for vulnerability and forgiveness — of each other and yourself. Everyone is liberated. And all of this creates space for empathy — which is what you were supposed to feel instead of judgement in the first place.

At the end of our bad playdate, Bad Playdate and I chatted honestly about our observations (read: judgement) of one another. This includes that I swear in front of my kids. Which I do. But since so few people are open about their thoughts, no one ever brought to attention that this might offend other parents. Which, apparently, it does. Bad Playdate’s words stung, but I needed to hear them. I may or may not choose to change my behavior, but at least I’m doing so from a place of awareness — not a plastic bubble created by the no-judgement edict. Even more powerful is that I am free from this bubble, and Bad Playdate is, too. I find that I’m more empathetic towards her after hearing her take on things. I am kinder to myself for my own flaws as a parent. We’re closer friends for it. And we got some nice media attention, too.

So I challenge you. Start small, with someone you love and who loves you back. Better yet if actually like this person. Ask them to be part of a new exercise designed to bring you closer and grow as people. Ask them what bugs them about you. Ask if you can share in kind. Start small — no tackling giant perceived personality flaws. Then take not how you feel after the exercise – about your friend and yourself. Share your experience here in the comments.

Listen to Badplaydate and me go of about our playdate and judging aloud:

Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post’s ‘Must Read” list.

Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.

A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.

24 thoughts on “I judge everyone all the time and you do, too. And that is good.

  1. Thanks to WSM and BPD for coming on the Dadsaster podcast – and thanks for the entertainment. For us dads, we’re just relieved when you mommies are aiming your laser-judgment on each other, rather than us.

  2. How about tact, civility and respect?
    Dear Emma, if I judged your certain views and opinions in the comments section openly, you will simply block me. I noticed you got rid of a comment (I happen to read it) you didn’t like because it was umm…judgmental.
    I heard the podcast yesterday and I think these guys are funny.
    Can I judge you for calling their show boring?

  3. Hi Anna – Hmmm not sure where to begin – you’re all over the place! Sure, I’m all for tact and respect – certainly not incompatible with judgement (as I directed addressed in this post), and I only block my ex husband who once in a while pops up here and I think maybe one other really vitriolic post? (I forget) — otherwise read away! This site is full of haters! BUT – what on God’s green Earth does managing a professional business have to do with the point at hand?

    As for the show – um, sweetie fellow blogger – we all work in media. We all like each other. I too find them funny. And you got it wrong: I called the topic at hand boring – not the show.

    So if I were to judge you based on your weird little comment I would say you are rather unintelligent. But feel free to post an unblocked response and maybe I will discover otherwise and find empathy for your words.

    At the same time it appears you are quite the loyal and thorough follower, for which I judge you awesome. Or are you a stalker? Hard to know!

        1. Sorry. That was cruel. I had to come back and apologize. My judgement that you’re a bitch and should kill yourself may have been out of line. I just read this blog that told me I should embrace my judgements and I acted on it!

  4. I agree that we all judge but I think withholding judgement and giving people the benefit of the doubt are most important. Life is tough, and people generally do their best, and it’s not for me to pass judgment. Unless someone crosses me in some important way, it’s really none if my business.

  5. But, CKolman – why not find a way to share all of our judgements instead of admonishing each other for even having them? Embrace what is, then find a productive way to leverage it for everyone’s good.

  6. Wow. I’ve been reading through some entries in hopes that you are not the cold hearted butcher you sounded like you were, but, alas, you are.

    No wonder your husband left you. You are just a mean person. I feel sorry for your kids.

    1. J- I just happened to stumble across this blog and your statements say a lot more about you than this blogger. Emma, you have every right to delete these horrendous comments, they are bullying behavior and God forbid you actually suffer emotional damage you may have a case against this person. Take a screen shot of it and if it continues get the authorities involved that can track down the person behind the screen. Hurt people hurt others. J I hope you heal and find love, and forgiveness for yourself and for whoever has hurt you so much to the point that you leave public comments like these. And since you are so brazen why don’t you leave your real name and number next time you choose to leave comments like these so the authorities can track you and find you easier. Think twice before you type.

  7. Emma, I’m sorry about these comments. It’s like road rage. It doesn’t matter if I agree with everything you say, I’m enjoying your blog, which I discovered today. I like your very clear writing style. I also think we live in an overly child-centric society…. it’s unhealthy. My new husband and I agree that our marital relationship is more important to us and our health than our relationship with our kids. It sounds mean and stingy, but we both dote on our kids. I think we are great.

    On another note about judgment, my ex-husband and father to my two boys once made my older son walk all the way home from school on crutches with a broken ankle. I was working out of town, which I do monthly. My neighbor and fellow mom wrote me an email telling me that I needed to pick my son up from school while he was on crutches, and she let me know that my son’s friends moms had all discussed it and agreed that he needed a ride. This was embarrassing, of course, but what if she hadn’t written that judgmental email? I thanked her profusely and told her I was grateful to have her as a neighbor. Then I emailed my ex-husband, told him he needed to give our son a ride, and remembered why we are divorced. It’s important to judge negatively.

    1. @Beveryly – LOVE THIS STORY. Also how you concisely summed it up: “It’s important to judge negatively.” I mean, this is the stuff that maintains a moral society, no?

      Thanks for reading and I look forward to more of your comments.

      1. I can’t really agree with this. You don’t seem to specify what sort of judgment you mean. There are all sorts of people in all sorts of circumstances that you could judge, to various extents. There’s a difference between judging a person and judging their actions. For example, i personally knew a mother of an adult disabled daughter who killed her, then committed suicide. I met them in the last few years of their life. She had a lot of negative experiences specifically regarding the daughters condition and how they dealt with the “judgmental” world. Her partner left her after it was certain that their child was disabled, and the doctors reacted very negatively, while other mothers came in and asked her if she was going to “keep it”. She had hardly any family to support. She had also recently developed arthritis, and eventually it all became too much for her. In her note she said she was worried about what would happen to her daughter if she weren’t around to look after her. Obviously, you and anyone else could sit back in judgment of this woman for committing murder and not dealing with her situation in the end, but are you really in a position to judge when you have no idea what they went through? Is it something to be critical and judgmental about, or do you think perhaps you should reserve judgment and have compassion for someone who lost hope? You are presuming that people who say that you shouldn’t judge are passive aggressive, but that is not automatically the case. The vast majority of people do judge, apart from the very enlightened few, but many people at least try to make it a point to be more self aware of how they view and treat others. We can’t appropriately judge other people because we will never be them. We will never know how they feel or why they chose the path they did. Our judgments are so often based on our own preconceived notions, which can be so far removed from the truth. Another story i can think of was another murder suicide of a large family, supposedly committed by the mother. It wasn’t until years later that new evidence was found that it was actually the surviving male family member who killed everyone to get money and inherit the property, yet by this point, the mother had already been slandered for a crime she didn’t commit. This is why i differentiate judging a person and judging their actions, and why i ask what sot of judgment you refer to exactly. Some things are just wrong, simple as that. Rape, murder, abuse of any kind etc. No one has the right to do those things, and to judge them as wrong is not only sensible, but important. Even my friend who killed her daughter and herself was wrong to do that. But we cannot judge the entire human being, the soul of a person. That sort of judgment is not for us to give. It usually serves as a way of putting people down and being unforgiving for things that we don’t understand.

        1. In another perspective, every living somewhat intelligent being is constantly making judgements on evwrything and everyone around them. U judge what is and what isn’t,when to cross the street, who to be around, how tp react to things amd some are innate judgements inbedded deep into your second amd third conscienc. Everyone just wants something to fixate on tthough

      2. Hmmm, Susan. I’m not sure. They are at every supermarket and grcoery here! Do you have any type of flavored drink packet in Ireland? That’s all Kool-Aid is!

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